Entry screening and multi-layer mitigation of COVID-19 cases for a safe university reopening

Ahmed Elbanna, George N. Wong, Zach J. Weiner, Tong Wang, Hantao Zhang, Zhiru Liu, Alexei V Tkachenko, Sergei Maslov, Nigel Goldenfeld

Research output: Working paper


We have performed detailed modeling of the COVID-19 epidemic within the State of Illinois at the population level, and within the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at a more detailed level of description that follows individual students as they go about their educational and social activities. We ask the following questions: (1) How many COVID-19 cases are expected to be detected by entry screening? (2) Will this initial bump in cases be containable using the mitigation steps being undertaken at UIUC? Our answers are: (1) Assuming that there are approximately 45,000 students returning to campus in the week beginning August 15, 2020, our most conservative estimate predicts that a median of 270 textpm 90 (minimum-maximum range) COVID-19 positive cases will be detected by entry screening. The earliest estimate for entry screening that we report was made on July 24th and predicted 198 textpm 90 (68 positive cases. (2) If the number of returning students is less, then our estimate just needs to be scaled proportionately. (3) This initial bump will be contained by entry screening initiated isolation and contact tracing, and once the semester is underway, by universal masking, a hybrid teaching model, twice-weekly testing, isolation, contact tracing, quarantining and the use of the Safer Illinois exposure notification app.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementThis work was supported by the University of Illinois System Office, the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, the Grainger College of Engineering, and the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Z.J.W. is supported in part by the United States Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, provided under Award No. DE-FG02-97ER25308. This work made use of the Illinois Campus Cluster, a computing resource that is operated by the Illinois Campus Cluster Program (ICCP) in conjunction with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and which is supported by funds from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This research was partially done at, and used resources of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, which is a U.S. DOE Office of Science Facility, at Brookhaven National Laboratory under Contract No.~DE-SC0012704.Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:None neededAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesN/A
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Number of pages13
StateIn preparation - Sep 2 2020

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
  • Novel coronavirus
  • 2019-nCoV
  • Pandemic


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